Trump administration looking to infrastructure for stimulus: Mnuchin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump was interested in using road, bridge and other projects to blunt the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis and the administration was having talks about creating an infrastructure plan.

“The president has been very clear: he is prepared to do whatever we need to do to make sure that American workers and American businesses are protected,” he said. “If we need more programs, more money, we will be going back to Congress.”

Mnuchin said Trump’s longstanding desire to update the country’s infrastructure had led the administration to talks over the last year with Republican and Democratic lawmakers about possible legislation. Now, as interest rates scrape the bottom, the administration considers this a great time to invest in infrastructure.

Congress is working on its fourth legislative package addressing the coronavirus crisis, as it urgently tries to churn out bills that will both bolster the public health response to the deadly pandemic and alleviate the economic suffering hitting almost every part of U.S. society.

Trump and Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi have found common ground in wanting to include capital works projects in this “Phase 4” legislation to provide jobs for millions of newly displaced workers.

“The president very much wants to rebuild the country and with interest rates low that’s something that’s important to him,” Mnuchin said. “We expect there will be more bills and we think it is a great time now to invest in infrastructure.”

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)